Monday, January 11, 2010

Transcription Monday: A Mighty Mott Memoir, Part 1

"I have often wished there was some one who could remember the events of my young days and talk them over with me, but they are all gone and no other person would be willing to listen, so I try to amuse myself by writing some of the recollections that pass through my mind as I sit here alone.  It is an occupation, when I feel the want of companionship.

I hope if anyone should care to read these lines they will remember the advanced age of the writer and excuse the numerous mistakes and erratic writing, and also if some of these seem trivial and childish, realize that I was a child at the time and regarded everything from a child's point of view."

- Estrella Charlotte Mott Lies
  Berkeley, California 1913

Several month ago I was made aware of this memoir, written by the eldest (to reach maturity) sister of my great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Gertrude Smith Mott Healey.  Mary's sister, Estrella was born in 1835 in New Jersey.  Their parents were Isaac Thomas Mott (1800-1860) and Mary Johanna Rose (1811-1865).  Their siblings were Evelyn or Everallyn/Everalyn Mott (born 1830 but died young), Frances Everalyn Mott vonSchmidt (1836-1875; she is an ancestor of the artist Harold von Schmidt and his son, Eric, the musician and artist who is noted for his work with Bob Dylan), George William S(mith?) Mott (1840-1843), Florence Matilda Mott (1844-1845), Matilda Florence Mott Gill (1845-1878), Marcus Henry Thomas Mott (1847-1880), William Wallace Mott (1849-1918) and Mary Gertrude Smith Mott Healey (1852-1927).  These, along with some extended relatives and friends and acquaintances make up the cast of characters in this memoir. 

One thing I wanted to get back to doing with the start of the new year is transcribing the stories, letters and words of my ancestors and get them out there for others to enjoy and so my other relatives who might be interested can have copies.  The memoir itself is about 50 pages so it will take awhile to get it all up.  When I first read it I was startled by how detailed and entertaining it is.  Estrella's story begins in New Jersey and spans her lifetime, from her early years in New York and the Eastern US to her time spent in Hawaii and Mexico to the family's eventual settlement in the Bay Area of California.  The memoir can be found in the library of the University of Hawaii at Manoa as part of an Hawaiian history collection.  I will try and post a page or two at a time for now, maybe more and maybe less at certain points.  I'd like to thank the relatives who sent me copies of Estrella's memoir.  A cousin very kindly and graciously mailed me a copy and around the same time, two other relatives generously shared their copies with me through e-mail.  Big, big, thank yous to them for sharing this story with me and now, I'd like to share Estrella's story with you:

Reminiscence of New Jersey

"From the mist that surrounds my infant days emerges the farm in New Jersey, the red house with the big locust tree beside it and the field so covered with dandelions in summer it looked a veritable field of the cloth of gold.  Fanny [Frances Everalyn Mott vonSchmidt] and I spent many happy hours in that field, indeed I think we were always happy and contented though we had none of the amusements that city children have and few toys, but we had plenty of room to play out-doors and we never quarreled but played peacably together all day with flowers and kittens.

In winter our mother read to us and amused us with games.  She did not allow us to associate with the children from the other farms as she was very careful of our manners and behaviour and she was afraid we might become rough.  Our mother did not live like a farmer's wife, she had nothing to do with the work.  There were two girls, an Irishwoman who took care of the rooms and a very competent American woman who did the cooking and washing, also made the bread and all kinds of cakes and pies.  I recall distinctly the wide open fireplace in the kitchen with the iron crane and kettles hanging from the hooks.  There was a big oven built in the side of the chimney where Anne baked the pies.  I delighted to see her draw them out when done with a long iron hook.  No pies have ever seemed so nice to me as those.  As our mother had no housework to do she had plenty of time to attend to us.  She taught us regularly and she must have been a good teacher for when I went to school I knew as much as other girls of my age.  I must have learned to read very young, for it seems to me as if I could always read.  When I was eight years old I had read Ivanhoe, the Talisman and some of Dickens' novels.

We could not go to church very often, we were so far from the town, Lockport, I think was the name, but on Sundays we learned verses from the Bible and some simple hymns.  We had a child's Bible with the stories and selections from the New Testament that I was very much interested in.

My mother's brother, Uncle George [nothing is known of this brother of Mary Johanna Rose Mott], managed the farm.  He was a young man, younger than mother.  He was very kind to us and I was very fond of him.  My step Grandfather Judge Wyman [the second husband of Mary Johanna Rose Mott's mother, Charlotte Clara Smith Rose Wyman], lived with us for awhile, I do not remember much about him except that he was very tall and that Uncle John Pattison [husband of Charlotte Smith Mott Pattison or Patterson, the sister of Isaac Thomas Mott] was his nephew.  He died sometime before we left the farm.  Another of mother's brothers, Uncle Henry [nothing is known of this brother either], came to see us frequently, and on one of these visits was taken very ill and died also, making two deaths during the time we were on the farm.  It must have been very hard for our mother but I was too young to think much about it.  Our mother's family were not so long lived as the Mott's.  Our father's sisters all lived to be over seventy but with the exception of Aunt Holly [Charlotte Matilda Rose Holly] none of the Roses were very much past fifty.  There was a [Augustus] Frederick Rose, another Uncle, who was at West Point, but died of fever quite young [1845, roughly age 33].  Our mother's sister Evy [Frances Everallyn/Everalyn Rose Irwin], for whom Evy [Estrella's sister Evelyn or Everallyn/Everalyn Mott] was named, was near our mother's age and married William Irwin who afterwards was Minister to Sweden.  She died a few years after her marriage leaving three children, a boy, also William who entered the Navy and two girls.  I do not know what became of them.  [I have more information of this Irwin family if anyone is interested.]"

"Reminiscence of New Jersey" will continue next week, stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Leah, I just recieved an email from a descendant of Comfort Haley who went Hawaii and stayed with the Dominis family. This must be a relation of yours! She is sending me copies of a journal to bring to the curator. I can't wait to see where our families paths crossed in Hawaii. I found this blog post when I googled the name Mary Gertrude Mott.


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